Wednesday, January 26, 2011

homeward bound

and this is it... the last day of my incredible journey.

i've had an amazing time, but i am now ready to go home. quite honestly, i regret coming to london for as long as i did. i wish i had spent more time in india, less time in london, and then still be returning on the same day. the reason i say this, is because india was so crazy, fun, challenging, fascinating... and london is exactly the opposite of that. india revitalized me, excited me, rejuvenated me. london bored me. and you can tell that just by the way that i almost gave up on this blog while i've been here. there hasn't been anything interesting to report, really. london is also so expensive, that i wasn't going to just go out and roam about and end up spending money for the sake of spending money. but regardless, it was great to go back and see all my pals.

it was also a nice midway transition back from the beach in goa, to mild winter in london, to the blizzard that cancelled all flights to nyc except mine, miraculously.

i went to see the black swan before visiting my gal pal and her new hubby (i went to their wedding last september) for dinner. we had such a fantastic time, and gabbed away for hourssss. we were the last ppl in the restaurant. it was so nice to talk to them about my trip to india and all other things going on. i wish i had been able to see them more actually, but i'll be back in october for s&m's wedding and will see them then!

then the next day i decided to visit the tate modern. which, is a great building... but i realized as i walked through room after room, how little i actually understand and appreciate modern art. which is weird because i went to school with some of the most talented artists in the country, whom i respect tremendously, and thoroughly enjoy viewing their art. but in a museum setting, i don't get it. i really don't like warhol, i really don't like abstract sculptures, i really don't think that painting patterns on canvas is interesting. but i do like the pollock's and the textures and colors of oil paintings... i dunno, i honestly walked through there wondering, what the hell am i doing here?

so i left and went to see the king's speech before heading home to make my hosts an american feast. not my best meal, as i really had to rush through it, but it was still nice to share with them.

finally, this morning i met with my other springboard pal to catch up before heading to the airport. he's funny as ever, and it's weird how the springboard experience really left this semi-permanent feeling of guilt that we have for working in the same careers that we were then,a nd not changing too much post-experience. at least i got a new job and the money i wanted and an incredible travel experience thrown in. (but i'm not looking to change careers now anyway).

i'm happy to be going back home. i'm happy to have my own bed, my own towels, my blow dryer, my laptop, i tv shows, and all the little things that are never really that important to leave behind when you travel, but then become really important when you've been separated from them for several weeks. i just wish that it wouldn't be through a major snow storm.

couldn't you take it easy on my nyc? i didn't need inches of snow as a welcome home.

mama, i'm coming home.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

london's calling

i never expected that london would ever be warmer than india, but i had to wear more layers in agra than i do here!

the flight over was one of my worst yet. we got delayed because of a british airways system crash. we had to remain grounded at the gate for 3 hours before taking off. and then there were 3 babies surrounding me in each direction that did not shut the f*ck up the entire flight. and i forgot my xanex. i wanted to strangle them, drug them, smother them... after being on that plane for 12 hours and having to endure their terrible SCREAMING i had no shame approaching them upon exiting the plane, and telling them what terrible babies they are, but with a smile. ugh.

at the airport, i went to an information desk to inquire about the weekly tube pass. when the man said i could purchase it there with him, i had a sort of defensive reaction that i acquired in india, where i asked if he'd be making a commission on it then. he laughed and said no miss!

it's so good to be back in one of my favorite cities in the world. the weather is not at all intimidating either, so i'm enjoying this midway transition back home. i don't have any plans to see or do anything in particular while i'm here. i just like to be able to relax and walk around and listen to the glorious accent in the streets.

it's nice to be back with my friends s&m (hehe). it's also nice to have my hair done again. i met s for lunch the morning after i arrived and then paid a visit to the notorious primark for some cheap, £3 sweaters. i'm loving the seasonal sales right now. at night, i arranged a really nice reunion with my springboard pals. we had an intimate turn-out of 5, and it was so great to see what everyone had been up to since the trip 18 months ago. one of the men is currently working on the athelete's village for the 2012 london olympics, brought me a 2012 pin, which i thought was so nice. we all just chatted away and caught up like no time had passed.

then the next day, i met my wonderful long-time friend from nyc, who is going to be living in beijing for the next 6 months, and was coicindentally here this week for work. it was so cool to be able to spend the day with him in "landan." i met him at his hotel in picadilly circus and we went off for an amazinggggg lunch at gaucho. i finally had a big, juicy, well-deserved steak and it was worth every pound and pence. we moved on strolling down bond street through all the ultra exclusive shops, and admired the diamond jewels displayed in the windows, that could easily be mistaken for paperweights. then all of the sudden, when we were stopped at a red light, i discovered the shop that i have been looking for since september--- penhaligon's. a true english perfume shop, one of only 2 that are left in england, and it is even crowned by the queen. everything in there smells so delicious and rich, and after first discovering penhaligons when i was washing my hands in a posh restaurant's restroom, i'm glad to finally able to pick up the soap and candle that i've been wanting. we experimented with some of their scents, and spent most of our walk through the streets of london smelling each others' wrists. despite there being incredible sales in the stores, i couldn't justify splurging on the mulberry bag after what i've just spent this past month. we perfectly ended the day of extravagance with some incredibly delicious macarons from la duree. we laughed about how easily we could get used to this lifestyle. i'i will miss him so much these next few months!! we are finally in great places in our careers, and i'll be sad not to have him around to witness the changes. we took a terrible photo, but it's a photo of us in london nonetheless!!

my friends have recently become engaged, so we had dinner at their favorite restaurant that could possibly become their wedding venue. i admit that we had a few too many bottles of wine and conversation may not have been the greatest, nor the most productive. then we were off to a club and i feel bad about this, but it was sooo funny to watch m dance. it reminded me so much of hugh grants' moves in love actually, really cute.

this morning we went over to bluewater, aka bloo waa err, a really nice shopping mall complex that is actually managed by my springboard pal from my former company. it's has some great grocery stores where we scoured the shelves for ingredients to make a fresh green curry, as s just returned from spending the holidays in bangkok and wanted to recreate some of the dishes she learned there. i have pictures of the exhausting efforts that were put into making the curry paste.

coming up is a sunday lunch, with s's family tomorrow. i think i'll go see the king's speech on monday, and then i'll be meeting another springboard pal for dinner mon night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


pane = water
tanda pane = cold water
acha = ok
ha = yes
nayn = no
shukriyya = thanks
namaste = hello/greetings
nanga = naked
tum mujse pyar karti ho = do you love me?
do cheese garlic naan beggin kor = 2 cheese garlic naans, make them fast!
nodding yes is not up and down yes, it is side to side yes. i got confused many times at first. now my friends all say that i've gone indian on them and constantly shake my head side to side.

heading west

i began my journey homeward bound this morning.

i got extremely impatient while getting to mumbai. indians are great when they are managing their sort of organized chaos, but when they try to do something that requires true organization, it becomes a nightmare. if there is a queue set up, ppl come and cut it anyway, and i have to shout across at the person behind the counter, like a 5 year old and say, "excuse me miss, i was next- not this man, thank you!" then, no one tells you that you need to get your bags scanned before waiting in the long line to check them. so you get out of the line to go scan the bags. the scanner ppl need your ticket. you dont have your ticket because you had to get your bags scanned first! arhghghgh! then you pick up your bags from your domestic flight and need a transfer to the international terminal. the signs are literally pointed in the opposite direction of where the transfer is located. the security guard there doesn't speak english. yet, you can't get on the bus because he needs a print out of your itinerary (in english) to check it. he doesn't speak english. what is he looking at then? to print out the ticket, you can't take the free shuttle bus to the terminal. you have to take a 150 rupee cab to the ticket counter.

after that ridiculous suggestion was thrown at me, the service reps took me to their manager's office located in the airport's back of house area. as a project manager in construction, i've seen my fair share of back of house areas. this one wins them all. puddles of moldy water in the stair wells. broken tiles. broken walls. broken sheetrock. 5' high ceilings. and then you crawl through a 5' door... i can't believe it's an office.

then you finally get to the ticket counter and they don't open for another 2 hours. and you have to sit and wait in an area with no lighting, uncomfortable chairs, freshly mopped floors with eau de toilette- literally smelling like a bathroom.

if you have a question, or you voice a concern, you just get blank stares. or you ask something like, "where is the atm?" "it is right around the corner miss." then you come back, "it is locked up." "oh miss, that is because it ran out of money." and you look at them like, are you for real? is there something missing in your head? well why didn't you just say that before making me walk there!?!?!?

traveling in india requires a very unique kind of patience and street savvy and a twisted way of thinking. in order to survive, you have to join the system and not counter it. so just being here is an experience in itself. now multiply that times 3 weeks, 5 cities, 6 modes of transportation and 1 billion people vs. 1 american girl.

i don't know if i would actually ever come back. it is beautiful, it is oozing with history and culture, but it is really dirty and really stressful. a lot of what you see and experience takes away from the beauty of the land and its treasures. the spitting alone could keep me away forever. so honestly, i really don't know if i'd come back. but if i did, i would avoid the cities as much as possible, but who knows.

that all said, i am so excited to be heading to london!! i cannot wait to see my friends!!!<3

the last supper

what happened last night is total proof that my new theory is true.

after i finished blogging, i was feeling a bit disappointed about the way my last night was going to be spent. i avoided making plans with the pals i met here because i was waiting for my friend to arrive-- but i then later discovered she wasn't going to. feeling bummed, i finished blogging and planned to go for a nice dinner near my hotel. now remember, i HATE having dinner alone in a restaurant. but immediately next to the internet cafe was this seafood place that i had noticed was always packed with brits, so i figured it must be good and clean, i'll go there. i actually hesitated because i was having second thoughts about going back to my hotel instead. but then i told myself, "who cares!?" no one is going to give a damn and i deserve to go and have a good dinner, so i walked in. who had also just walked in from the opposite entrance? hokey dokey.

i squinted my eyes in disbelief and i must have gushed for the first half of our dinner about how crazy and weird it was to run into each other at this particular restaurant at the same time. i kept telling him how i'd just finished writing about how disappointed i was that i could have made plans with him, but the other ones that i held out for fell through. and he had said that he felt sad when he dropped me off after going to the school, that he'd never see me again. he said it was meant to be! and i couldn't agree more. i only went to that internet cafe because the first cafe i went to had a slowwww connection. this one was full, so i had to go for a walk and returned about 20 minutes later for the computer. then i spent 90 minutes blogging, left, walked into the restaurant, and bam, there he was!

and the fact that i had hesitated, but pushed myself to go, thanks to the "who cares!?" motto, proves my theory, which resulted in a wonderful surprise, and a fantastic meal with great company. i couldn't have been more pleased with the way this trip ended.

and the brits were right about going there. we had chilli prawns and i had this lobster masala that was out of control. we chatted with an english couple sitting next to us-- one was from hokey's hometown, and the other's son was living in nj. funny.

i basically stayed up all night since my taxi was picking me up at 4:30am to head to the airport. after everything, this trip ended perfectly.

last day in india

last night was a quiet, but fun night on the beach. i was exhausted after having a major lost passport scare. i literally poured out all of the contents of all my bags and pockets and found it nowhere. i kept telling myself to remain calm, and that i would find it, but i was really so upset that i would have lost my most prized possession-- my identity, the proof of all my travels. turned out that when i checked into the hotel, i never recollected my passport after they took all my info. i can't believe that because i am so protective of my passport. so disappointed in myself but even more grateful to be reunited with it!!!

so i just went for a quick night with my friends at the shack and hokey dokey. the place was totally empty, and since the cooks had gone to bed, i asked if i could cook us a meal, as long as they teach me how to make the indian dishes. it was SO fun! we cooked chicken biryani, a rice dish with a chicken curry buried in between the layers; and cheese garlic naan. one of the chefs didn't speak english, so they were teaching me to tell him to hurry up in hindi, so this is what i learned (spelled phonetically):
"doe cheese garlic naan baggin kor" = 2 cheese garlic naans, make it fast!

we made it an early night since i was being picked up at 8:30am to go to see the kids. that was great. hokey dokey took me to 2 of their schools, and one of the "slums", which was really just a compound of cloth tents in the middle of an open field. the ppl residing there are the ones that make all those straw baskets that you pay loads for in the markets. some of the kids had cuts and infections treated on their feet-- since none of them wear shoes, despite each being given a pair. then there were many with major lice and the volunteers will have to go back and shave all their heads to get rid of it. they basically pulled out a couple of mats and sat the children down with colored pencils, coloring books and chalkboards. all the girls were cute about showing off their coloring. they endured about 30 minutes of learning A-B-C's and then we headed off. all of the children at all 3 locations were so cute and friendly. they waved hi with smiles from ear to ear. the one i'm holding took over me like a boss, and grabbed my hand and dragged me everywhere to play ball with him. so cute. the ride back to my hotel on the motorbike was one of the best rides i've ever been on. the landscape was beautiful and it was so nice to feel the wind blowing in my face, and feeling the contrasts between the hot beating sun and the coolness of the shade.

then the tall glass of norwegian-persian water finally made it over to my beach. it was great to be able to see him again before we both leave this country tomorrow. he's like me, easy to make friends, and he had brought these 2 local guys he'd spent the last 2 days with. they stayed for about 15 minutes, enough to propose a "business opportunity" for me to get a free ticket to travel to europe or back home to the us, as long as i brought some of their goods with me. i politely rejected. when they left, i looked at my friend and i was like, you are not serious are you? get the hell away from them! he knows and is glad to be leaving india tomorrow too.

then i was disappointed that my masseuse friend had ripped me off today, after i paid him even more than what he asked for yesterday. im beginning to believe that this is just the true nature of indians- survival of the fittest. dog eat dog.

so now this is my last night, and unfortunately, i didn't make plans with any of my friends here because my friend from home was supposed to be coming with her aunt. but she got sick, and i only just now found out when i checked my email. i'll just go get a nice dinner and then head back to my hotel to watch a movie. i don't feel like going to the shack.

these few irritating experiences make it a little sweeter than bitter to leave. i love india, but i am really tired of all the cheating. goa is definitely my least favorite part of india, and even though i do hope to return to india someday, goa will never be revisited.

my journey westward begins tomorrow with a 7am flight to mumbai, a 5 hour layover there, and then a voyage to london, to see some of my favorite people that i met on my work trip to australia. funny that many of us are no longer employees with that company! but it's always the ppl i meet abroad on these wonderful trips that become some of my best and favorite friends. dutch girl and i have been keeping in touch almost everyday, she's still up in rajasthan and leaving on saturday. handsome hotel manager has also been messaging me everyday and still wishes i'd let him come here to goa. tall glass of water is coming to nyc march 20th and i offered him my place to stay. hokey dokey proposed that we meet in mexico or peru sometime next year. and the pals from springboard are eagerly awaiting my arrival in my beloved london, and we keep in touch as often as possible too.

pretty soon i'll have mapped out the globe, and i'll have myself a place to stay on every continent!

namaste india! shukriyya for a wonderful time here!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

omg goa

so last night i went out with the englishman, aka hokey dokey. we drove through goa on his motorbike, and after going on about dreaming of a proper sunday roast and indulging in some meat when i arrive in london (haven't had meat since forever), we ironically found it to be the restaurant's special du jour! ding! we followed this feast with drinks and had a lovely night filled with wonderful conversation about the school, the children, life goals, etc. i honestly wasn't expecting him to pay my 3-day tab at the beach, nor to take me out on a "date," but it was lovely! and he's very interesting, among many other things, i learned that his father is originally emirati, like real emirati. and he and his father and family were all invited to the grand opening of the burj dubai-- the world's tallest building, cool, huh? it is still very mind boggling to grasp how one can devote their life to this kind of work. whenever we were darting on his motorbike, he made sure to stop by the families he was looking after in the streets, and gave them clothes, money, food. i wouldn't say that it was hard or touching to witness that. it was just real. i was very confused about how to feel, but it was real. then walked by a bunch of middle class indians that were obviously very drunk, and they just stared at the families and laughed at them in disgust. we were both so disgusted with that. these are your own people...

while having drinks and discussing life, he repeated how impressed he is with me going on this solo tour thru india. and he asked me if i was here to help me find myself, but i immediately answered him, "no." there was no hesitation in that, and there still isn't. this trip is not at all about me. this trip has nothing to do with me making myself feel better about myself or my life. this trip has been completely about india, and learning and experiencing everything about it. it was about being out of my comfort zone, having a new experience, and having the confidence to navigate this land. and i think that it is because of how unselfish this trip has been, that it has been absolutely incredible. i have never had such a fulfilling, exciting, intoxicating experience in my life. (by intoxicating that in no way refers to drugs or alcohol-- i have a drug test the day i get back, for my new job, for god's sake!!!). i thought that being alone on this journey would have been lonely, sad, or that i would have relied on this blog for daily communication. but it has been the exact opposite. i have never been alone a single day here, and i probably wouldn't have met all these wonderful people, if i were distracted with a co-traveler. and this blog has surely served as a method of communication, but it has become more selfish--- i want to remember all these amazing experiences, and i've thoroughly enjoyed documenting everything and sharing it with my friends and family!

i was supposed to go with hokey dokey to the school this morning, but as we had left me at my hotel at 4am, i assumed that he overslept past our 10am pickup time when he was late. turns out he showed about a minute after i left, but he was sweet enough to follow up by calling one of the men at the club 21-- the beach shack i've shacked up with, and had them locate the only american girl to ever visit candolim, and thus we spoke. tomorrow should be a better try. but tomorrow we'll be visiting the local slums and not the school. that will be trying on my emotions, especially with it being my last day in goa. but im not going there to feel sorry for anyone. i'm going to do something there.

the rest of the day was just spent on the beach. everyone was cute as always, saying hello, chatting with me, and hanging out. i took some extra oranges from the hotel's breakfast buffet and brought them for my girl anita. i also saw the little girls that hokey dokey fed at the beach yesterday, and offered them bananas and chips, as you see below. i noticed that it was only the english who would entertain the girls, or buy things, or treat them to lunch or cold drinks. it was nice to see.

tomorrow i will be taking anita to lunch with me. we were chatting like women this afternoon, about her husband (who she says isn't handsome, lol), her children, and life in general. she's so cute. and the man who gave me the foot rub on day 1, gave me an incredible back rub today. he identified so many points of tension all over my back, arms, etc, that i didn't even know existed. he was like, "my dear, you are 27 today, tomorrow you are 99, the day after 100, you very old lady! why you have so much tension?" we made a deal that when i open up my spa in nyc, he will be my first employee. then the other guy who runs the shack sat and talked with me about girls and sex in india, and what happens with all the tourists that come and visit. a very interesting perspective. almost everyone i've met here in goa has an arranged marriage, and while most of them don't really like their spouses, they all seem to be ok with it.

the water was soooo nice and warm, and i must have floated in the sea for hours today. i can imagine that it must have really ruined my hair, since you can't use shampoo with sodium chloride with the BKT-- and guess what's in the sea? salt = sodium chloride.
but i really realized something: who cares!?!?!?!?
i've wasted so much energy and time with insecurities and feeling self conscious about many things in my life. i've let them hold me back from doing certain things, going to certain places, or having certain experiences. being single is not something i love about my life, and it's held me back on a few occasions-- but look at what an incredible time this has been. i would have felt insecure to go to a beach alone before, and i would have felt like every couple there would have looked at me like i have 2 heads. but i haven't noticed them, and they haven't noticed me. and i've met all the wonderful locals that have kept me so much company (sometimes not giving me enough time to relax and sunbathe) and that's all that i could ask for. and i would have felt insecure to wear my bathing suit and walk around the beach or swim, but look at all these other FAT women in bikinis. they don't care. they are on holiday, at the beach, and damnit, they want to wear a 2 piece! and even the guy was telling me that men don't really care about bodies, and i'm wrong if i think men only want a woman with a perfect beach body.

so i really just realized that life is everything you make of it. it is solely up to you to be happy with it, to enjoy it, and to be satisfied. and once you've accepted that, and you become comfortable in your own skin, the universe responds to that confidence, that happiness, that positive energy, and it brings all good things your way. so like they told me on the beach today,
"don't worry, be happy."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

in goa

i had a really nice and relaxing day on the beach today. i started out with a cute little pedicure that cost me $4. i had promised my girl anita that i would get a back and head massage from her, so got that too. it's not so much about the pampering, as it is such a little price for me to pay that provides so much for these women. and i fully support them. rather than begging, they are doing something, they are offering some sort of service. and that is productive and great. it is sad, but they need us tourists, regardless of how annoying it is for us.

it was a really nice day because everyone was really friendly, and acted like we were friends for a long time. i had some very interesting conversations with some of the ppl there. there was an english man handing out fliers about his school that he runs here in goa for all the poor children. he basically gets funding from european tourists to buy the kids uniforms, books, pencils, etc., and food. when i asked him why, he told me that he'd come here 15 years ago and seen a child run-over by a car on the side of the road, all cut up and bloodied. because he was from the lowest caste, no one bothered to help him and let him lie there for 2 days. when he'd seen him, he took him to the hospital straight away. he was so affected by the fact that no one felt it important to help the boy, that he realized if something needed to be done, he was going to have to do it himself. so he started this program to help the ones that no one else wants to help.

i got a great education on the slums, the poor, and the government. the slums in mumbai that we all saw in slumdog millionare, is one of the strongest political forces in mumbai, and is the biggest, most successful slum in india. it generates $650 million annually, so don't be fooled by the "poverty," they are actually very well off. most of the food we eat in mumbai and the goods that we purchase are made there. and the beggars that you see in the streets are professionals, living and trained in the slums, and they get driven down from mumbai and dropped off here in goa, in a mercedes. it's really terrible. they are so powerful that when the government tried to get rid of the slum, they unionized and were able to shut down the city of mumbai by refusing to work, cook, etc.

i'm still trying to understand the caste system here, but it defines everything- despite religion or state. who you are, what you can do, how much you can earn, etc. in fact, the days before i went to jaipur, the borders of rajasthan were closed, due to caste related strikes. one of them wanted a bigger share in employment. and for the lowest castes, no one wants to have anything to do with them, and they are left with no aid whatsoever. the government doesn't even care about them. they work and yet they can't earn a living beyond sleeping in the streets and having no possessions or food to eat. it's terrible.

so that man comes here and provides food and clothing for all the children, and gives them the chance that no one else takes the time to. i'm meeting him for a drink tonight, and tomorrow i plan to go visit him at the school and see what i can give back. it was remarkable how all the women selling goods on the beach knew him, as did their kids. he bought a meal for 2 women and their 3 children, collectively. between them they must have eaten 5 huge bowls of rice, they were that hungry. but they were all smiles and gave me hugs and kisses when they said goodbye. he's known to them as "hokey dokey". my girl anita said that one of the german women visiting goa now, had sponsored all 4 of her children with uniforms and school supplies, and they are now able to go to school this year. imagine? i have to do something as well. i was meant to meet this man before leaving. i am so interested to hear and see more.

but if you ask the goans, they say that goa is rich, not poor, as everyone has food here. what an interesting way to evaluate life right? gives you a new perspective. i shared my lunch and water with the girls on the beach today. i finally had sitofle (really dunno how it's spelled) which is my favorite fruit that i've only ever had in vietnam before. it is so yummy and delicious!

anyway, i just learned that my friend and her aunt are going to meet me here in goa tomorrow which is great!! i'm so glad i'll be able to see them before leaving! tall drink of norwegian-persian water can't find my hotel and we keep missing each others' messages. oh well, maybe we'll have better luck tomorrow.

until then, i will keep on enjoying my time!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

go a goa

so i arrived here in goa yesterday with an ambivalent impression. it's the kind of place i wanted to avoid: a pure tourist trap. it has little, to no indian character at all, and it is just a beach town totally surrendering to all the russian and english tourists that come here for the sun. i mean this in the nicest, non-racist way, but russian tourists ruin almost every one of their destinations. i don't know if it's because they go all out on their vacations and spend a lot, but beach towns will totally cater to them, and since they are never traveling for culture- they travel cuz it's cheap, it really ruins the destination. i've seen this in egypt, at sharm, and now here especially. i would hate it here if it weren't for the perfect beach weather, and the opportunity to get some sun before returning back to both cold and snowy, london and then nyc.

via facebook, i coordinated with that tall drink of water i met in agra, and met him at a hostel in north goa. it was really crappy, and luckily they had no room for me today, so i was forced to find a better place. and rightly so, i wanted to relax on a beach resort, on the beach, not a hike away from a run down hostel. i had my fair share of $12 a night hostels this entire trip, and i was prepared to splurge on an $80 a night resort. by indian standards, this is mega deluxe. but i deserve it after all! i got a huge raise, and i won the lottery. girl deserves a break! god, i had my first shower in like 4 days this morning. the water was grey, i was so dirty!!! haha.

at night, we went to one of the quintessential beach bars that all 20-something vacationers go to. it was the typical kind of place blasting techno that europeans love to dance to, in a terrible, uncoordinated, i'm-so-into-the-music kind of way. we laughed and talked about the progression of change that one experiences in their 20s, from college, partying, working, and "getting old". we realized that we are in the latter stage, for sure, as neither of us were in party mode, and just wanted to relax.

he's a lot of fun and super easy going, and plans to meet me at my hotel in the next day or so (i'm about 30 minutes south of him now). but honestly, my hotel has 2 rooms, and both are big enough to be split into two, so i wouldn't even mind if he came and stayed with me. haven't really been alone much on this trip, why start now?

the beach isnt nice at all, and looks as dirty as any of the ny beaches--- definitely doesn't compare to the pristine waters of thailand. but it's still a beach. the annoying thing is that it's not only crowded with russian tourists, most of whom should not be wearing bikinis (i mean, i brought a one piece for god's sake!) but locals swarm the beach stopping at you every moment to sell whatever crap they're carrying. i eventually caught on that they are territorial about the part of the beach you're in, and since i was the new girl they all hounded me. so i made some conversation, got to know them, and now they respect my desire to relax in exchange for promises to buy things tomorrow or the day after. this morning i had a nice foot massage for $3 right there on the beach! and tomorrow i promised a woman, anita, that she would give me a head and back massage. yay! another crazy thing was that when i had lunch at one of the shacks there, they didn't even make me pay! they said, "don't worry, be happy, relax you are on vacation. you can pay tomorrow." i would've thought this was a scam, but the english bloke i was lunching with, who has been there for 5 weeks!, said that this is just their MO, and i should go with it.

the sun is obviously very strong and i got tired easily. i also felt a little overcome with sadness today, when i realized that i am nearing the end of my amazing travels here in india. i could spend another month here, discovering all of its treasures, most of which i haven't even seen, and i don't know if or when i'd have the chance to come back. i've really grown to appreciate and respect so much about the culture here, and the way it values people, animals, the body, beauty, entertainment, etc. it is such a tremendous land with an extremely rich and diverse history and climate.
it really has earned its slogan, incredible !ndia
maybe i feel a little bad about spending time in this place, when i could have spent more time discovering rajasthan or kashmir.

but before i say goodbye, i have 3 more days on the beach, filled with yoga classes, fresh seafood (yes, i'm going to try this again per my english friends' suggestion), and lots and lots more ayurvedic therapies. there's a special treatment for stress relief called "shirodhara" that involves having a continuous stream of hot oil poured on the head, while being massaged. i canNOT wait for this. i've unfortunately had terrible headaches the entire time i've been traveling, and my doctor's latest headache prescription isn't doing anything to help. and since i love to prove that medicine is NOT always the answer, i'm very excited to go holistic!

as for the handsome kashmiri, he is really pushing to come visit in goa, and i am still as unsure as ever. i have never had anyone be so interested in me in my life, and i dont even know how to deal with it. i'm too cynical to believe in that movie type of love anyway. everyone said that it didnt exist, and now he's ready to jump on a plane and fly to the south of india for me, and i'm saying no. isn't this all silly?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

another interesting day in delhi

i got up and found my handsome hunk waiting for me, and we went to humayun's tomb and the red fort together. i think i am now all tomb'ed out. they all now look the same, and im over the 250 rupee ticket fees to get in. it is the perfect time to be heading south for the warm weather.

i had my handsome guy by my side all day, and i dont know if it is because i had him with me that it has been extremely easy to travel in delhi. but it has been clean, stress-free and so much fun. no one bothering me, no one hassling me. just easy. plus, i had a personal map and tour guide!

delhi is a lot nicer than i was expecting it to be, honestly. i thought it would be dirty, smelly, full of beggars, and be loaded with cows in the streets, but it was none of that. the metro is nicer than ours in nyc, and yes, it's crowded, but i was shocked at how clean it is! it's really a modern city with every western influence you could need there. i had no problems with food at all, either. so, i feel bad about how i wasn't looking forward to it (i was even contemplating avoiding it altogether) but it turned out to be a great visit!

while resting at the hotel for a bit, i heard music and children laughing in the streets. they were celebrating lori, the hindu festival marking the height of winter. there were tiny little bonfires scattered in the streets, and people were playing music and singing around them. people were going around giving out handfuls of popcorn and peanuts, while a group of women sang to me to give me the good fortune of delivering a son with my apparently knew husband. i had no idea i was coming to india for this. ha.

we fled the singing, laughing, and went to date night.

he came with me to the airport to send me off, but wants to join me in goa. not sure how i feel about that. goa is supposed to be my totally solo detox period.

so maybe i'll sleep on it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


when i checked in last night, i was kinda blushing when i saw how handsome my hotel manager is. he was wearing a blazer with a scarf around his neck, nice jeans and has a really handsome face, very european in style (my taste). he complimented me on my shawl and told me that he's from kashmir, where the shawl was made. so this morning i came down looking for my very handsome hotel manager, to get advice on how to get around, but unfortunately he wasn't there.

bummed, i took a tuk tuk and was supposed to be droped off at the red fort to begin with some sight seeing. he, like most crooked ppl in india, didn't drop me off anywhere near it, but instead took my money, and took me to a shop that was "walking distance" from the red fort... SO NOT WALKING DISTANCE FROM ANYWHERE. but because i've learned not to trust a single person here, i went inside anyway, to get away from him. it was the kind of kashmiri shop that sold all the things i love: carpets, pashminas, jewelry, etc. i had no intention of buying anything, but i was only going to kill time till the tuk tuk drove off. but in the end, the joke was on me because i dropped about 1k on everything i bought.

so what happens is that you go in and they say, "no madam, you don't have to buy anything, just look. looking is free madam." if you never met a kashmiri person, you would know by the way that they speak. as true salesmen, they are smooth talkers, and as kashmiris, they speak english pretty well (this has to do with the politics, but im not gonna get into that) and they are also usually good looking ppl. they have lighter skin, often light eyes, and just a suavemente persona. anyway, so you go, and they show you this, and they show you that, and then they offer you "special tea from kashmir", and please, have a seat... and before you know it, you are sweet talked into buying all the gorgeous things they sell and you're telling the shop owner, "PLEASE don't show me anything else! i can't spend any more money, i wasn't expecting to buy all of this!" and he replies,
"shopping like this for these beautiful things is like falling in love. you never plan for it, it just happens. you will be walking down the street, and all of the sudden you will see a hunk and you will fall in love, but you weren't expecting it!"

some english-speaking boy (my brother's age) accompanied me to a spice market where i bought some spices and got an education from the shop's owner. as we sat and talked of recipes, he wrote on a piece of paper "keep distance from these boys, they will bring you trouble" holy shit, my heart was racing!! so he caused a distraction, and i bolted for the metro back to my hotel. i was cranky, annoyed, and lost, when all of the sudden who did i see? my handsome hotel manager!!!!!!

he even said that he was looking for me in the morning, and that he was disappointed i had left so early. so he decided to go out for lunch, which he never does, and was so happy that we ran into each other, in the midst of all the chaos here in karol bagh (a neighborhood in delhi). is that what the kashmiri shop owner was talking about??? he invited me to lunch where we had fancy schmancy, KFC, and then after he took me around to some sights. it was such a nice day, and we talked a lot about cultures and travel. however, he did say that i should have gone with him to buy the kashmiri things because i paid more than i should have. oh well.

what's even more corny is that when i got back to check my email tonight, after spending the whole day with him, i saw that he had sent me an email in the morning, with like, "dear sweetie, blah blah blah" and saying that he hopes i didn't eat lunch and we could go together. so it is really crazy that we did bump into each other. he is sitting across from me working on the books with his business partner, and it is always very sexy to watch a man doing serious business.

i think we have a crush on each other. don't tell me that my trip is getting more and more corny/cliche by the day. eat-pray-love? and seriously, don't tell me that i had to come to india to find my husband, because i am NOT living here.

oh please, no.

this trip is so hilarious. and i am so glad that i am here alone because i wouldnt experience a fraction of all the random things i have already. no regrets at all, i'll remember this trip forever. <3